Eagerly anticipating my visit to 3d & Central to watch the Louisville nine Friday night — my first public event since Rudy Gobert embraced former Card Donovan Mitchell last March– I knew there was one iconic sound of baseball that wouldn’t be heard.
That sharp crack that comes when a hard ash bat squarely meets horsehide fashioned with 216 stitches.
You know that exhilarating sound if you ever were in the ballyard watching, say, Dave Parker, during those years when he was a perennial MVP contender as the We Are Family Pirates moved inexorably toward their ’79 Series Crown.
Buuut, in college ball, it’s metal “lumber” with a less than satisfying ping. Sigh.
That however didn’t even raise to level of minor buzz kill, given my thrall of actually attending a game on a hot April night.
Plus there was the rediscovery of the other sounds. Dugout chatter. Ball and leather meeting around the horn. The thwap of a well-hurled heater into the catcher’s mitt.
All more easily heard with a limited, socially-distanced, masked crowd.
Oh, the joy of the two Little Leaguers with gloves moving about on the concourse for a better shot at a foul ball souvenir. And the ecstasy of the adolescent girl with a ball, after her mom’s friend snared one off a Seminole bat.
What broke out was a classic pitchers duel.
The Cardinals against Parker Messick and Florida State against Michael Kirian. Both sides went three up three down in the 1st, again in the 2d, again in the 3d. All in a crisp 1950s no muss no fuss 31 minutes.
The Seminoles broke through with a one out single in the top of the 4th. But the Cards wiped it out with an unusual and way nifty Trey Leonard to Christian Knapcszyk to Alex Binelas fly out, throw to cut off the runner, throw out DP.
A DP after a walk to Cardinal Henry Davis ended the bottom.
The small ball game scooted along. Five full in 60 minutes.
The black-uniformed Cardinals finally tallied in the bottom of the 6th.
From the nine hole, Knapczsyk doubled to left, moved to third when Cooper Bowman beat out what was meant to be a sacrifice bunt. Luke Brown singled, a rifle shot liner off Messick’s ankle, scoring Knapczsyk. Binelas emptied the pond — oh how easily lingo of the pastime returns — with a two out double in the gap. 3-0 Cards.
Which advantage the visitors erased in the top of the 7th, knotting the battle with an Elijah Cabell homer.
Relievers on both sides settled in. Adam Elliott for the U of L. Jonah Scolaro for Florida State.
In the top of the 10th, new fangled technology saved the Cards. The bases were full. An Elliott toss grazed Logan Lacey’s elbow. Hit by Pitch was ump Adam Dowdy’s call. Run scored. Louisville protested. The umps went to the monitor, overruling the call. No score. Elliott fanned the batter on a 1-2 count, to preserve the tie.
In the bottom of the 10th, the Cards walked off with a victory, the old fashioned way.
To start the inning, Scolaro walked Knapczsyk, who was in the middle of the action all evening. Davis Hare took the mound for the Seminoles. The runner advanced to second on a hit and run, advancing to third on a squiggler back to the mound.
With his game winning RBI single, heralded Levi Usher hopefully kickstarted what’s been a disappointing sophomore season so far.
Cards win! Cards win!
Louisville 4, Florida State 3.
On a glorious spring evening, two hours and 45 minutes of bliss, a hint of normalcy, rejuvenation out of the house, and U of L W.
— c d kaplan